Karnataka polls: Here's how mutts can act as game changer in state politics

It also suggests that in the state of Karnataka, an election can be won or lost with just a nod or a shake of the head from the chief of a mutt

Sutturu Mutt

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BS Web Team New Delhi

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The citizens of the Southern state of Karnataka will line up in queues on Wednesday to cast their votes for the assembly elections. Ahead of the elections, all three major political parties - Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, and Janata Dal (Secular) intensified their attacks on each other and announced freebies (free gas cylinders, affordable housing, and food grains) to woo the voters. 

During elections in Karnataka, all political parties are usually seen running to mutts. Mutts are religious institutions like the Deras in Punjab and have a large following. These mutts can also sway a big chunk of votes in the upcoming state assembly elections, shows the report.

In the state of Karnataka, an election can be won or lost with just a nod or a shake of the head from the chief of a mutt. Though many mutts do not take part in politics and tell their followers to vote for whichever party they like, there are others who tell their followers to favour one particular party.

Ahead of the polls in the state, here's all you need to know about mutts in Karnataka and their role in the upcoming elections:

What are mutts?

Mutts are religious institutions. In Karnataka, both small and big mutts account for over 1,000 mutts in the state, some of which were established several centuries ago. These mutts have a massive following and are followed by people from different castes and communities. These communities include Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Kurubas, Valmikis, Nayakas, and Madigas.

There are over 1,000 mutts of Lingayats alone. Some of the prominent mutts in the state include- Siddaganga Mutt, Adichunchanagiri Mutt, Muruga Mutt, Madara Guru Peeta, Kanaka Guru Peeta, and Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt. 

Importance of mutts

Unlike the mainstream Hindu religion, different castes and communities follow different mutts. The followers of mutts are given opportunities to create a community where people have stronger bonds with one another and participate in common events. These mutts not only deal with religious matters but also organise the social, cultural, and economic life of their followers to a great extent.

Mutts hold great importance and are an integral part of community life as they are not religious centers but also run educational institutions as well, where free education is provided. Mutts are also responsible for hosting free food programmes, thereby giving them greater political importance in the state. 

First Published: May 10 2023 | 12:01 PM IST

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